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MTB news & racing round-up for February 2, 2008

Welcome to our regular roundup of what's happening in mountain biking. Feel free to send feedback, news, & releases to mtb@cyclingnews.com and results, reports & photos to cyclingnews@cyclingnews.com.

Edited by Sue George

Pros prepare in Israel

The camp's riders
Photo ©: Dror Pekatch
(Click for larger image)

It's the time of year when many professional cyclists head to warmer climates for training camps. When looking for warm European countries for early-season training, Israel's Dror Pekatch, who races for Subaru - Gary Fisher, had an idea. "I will not go there. I will bring the riders here". He wanted to give pro riders the chance to train somewhere warm while also pushing himself to climb within the elite ranks by training with top riders, so the Isrotel International Training Camp was born.

"Here in Israel we have all that is needed - high quality roads and trails, perfect winter weather," said Pekatch. "In general, Israel is a real cycling country, only no one really knows that yet, so I took it upon myself to spread the word."

He ran a pilot camp in 2007 which evolved it into a full-blown camp for 2008. On January 18, seven international racers landed in Israel, including Swiss Christof Bishof (Bikin' Cyprus Team), Great Britain's Simon Richardson (Plowman Craven), Bernardine Boog (Dutch National Team and Giant), former Belgian national team member Gody Jacobs (Univega Pro Cycling Team), Dutch riders Ilya and Mike Velter (FCC de Plakpunters) and Spain's Aitor Azpiazu (TACC). They joined two other Israeli riders Zachi Boygen and Ori Zur (TACC).

Athletes were well fed
Photo ©: Dror Pekatch
(Click for larger image)

Thanks to the Isrotel Ramon Inn, riders got room and board along with a staff of mechanics and soigneurs to support their training efforts on and off the bikes.

In eight days, camp attendees covered 960 kilometers over 28 hours of riding time with the longest ride being 190 km along the Israel-Egypt border on a beautiful, sunny day with breathtaking views. Riders were surprised by the quality of the roads and trails and level of general support. Pekatch credited his Subaru-Gary Fisher team manager Jon Rourke for setting an example of how to take care of pro riders.

"If I had known this is how its going to be, I would have come last year," said a happy Richardson. "I will be here next year, for sure."


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Dror Pekatch (Subaru / Gary Fisher)

Kona Factory team shifts focus toward endurance events

Wendy Simms (Canada) exhausted after the cyclo-cross worlds last weekend
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

The Kona Factory team is taking a new approach for 2008. Its riders will spread out across the globe and participate in many events outside the standard racing scene. The team's schedule will include more endurance events, as well as plenty of festival-oriented races like the Kona 24-hours in Old Pueblo and the Singlespeed World Championships.

Canadian U23 National Champion Neal Kindree will continue his drive to the top of the elite fields. He is aiming to win the Canada Cup Overall, defend his national title and take on events like British Columbia's Test of Mettle.

Tracy Moseley will lead the women. The second placed finisher in the 2007 World Cup Downhill will try to make the top step of the podium at the World Championships this year after a disappointing mechanical last year.

Kris Sneddon will continue as the do-it-all racer for the team hitting events like the World Cup, Canada Cup and the La Ruta races. Sneddon is a consistent top-10 performer at the US National Mountain Bike Series and he is hoping to join his taller team-mates Barry Wicks and Ryan Trebon on the podium.

Coming off the finest all-around season of her career, Wendy Simms' 2007 season was capped by a victory in the mixed category of the Trans Rockies race with her husband Normon Thibault. The regular participant in the NMBS races and European World Cup Cross Country events finished seventh at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships last weekend.

With an eye toward the next 'cross season, which will be his focus, US National short track champion Ryan Trebon will use the mountain bike season to increase his fitness. In addition to defending his national title, he will also visit events like the Firecracker 50 Marathon US National Championships and a few Mountain States Cup races, as well as a handful NMBS events.

Barry Wicks will build on his most consistent racing season from last year and tackle some World Cups and the BC Bike race. Taking the opposite approach of Trebon, Wicks stepped back from the cyclo-cross season this year, including declining a trip to race the world championships.

Hermida ends 'cross season and readies for MTB season

José Hermida is ready to put his cyclo-cross world championship performance behind him and focus again on mountain biking. He will gather with his Multivan Merida Biking Team mates on the island of Mallorca to begin preparations for the upcoming Olympic season.

Hermida's 'cross worlds got off to a rough beginning with a crash right after the start. From the last position, the Spanish cyclo-cross national champion fought his way back and ended up in 25th.

"I can not be satisfied with this 25th position," said Hermida. "But the race to catch up has shown that I could compete with the world's elite." In fact, the Spaniard finished as the top mountain biking specialist.

Atkinson scores silver behind Rennie

Moseley wins but Hannah collects title

Bryn Atkinson
Photo ©: Evan Jeffery
(Click for larger image)

Dylan Dean Designs's factory rider Bryn Atkinson scored silver on Australia Day at the 2008 Australian Mountain bike Championships on the slopes of Mt. Stromlo in Canberra, Australia. After qualifying first, ahead of defending Australian National downhill champion Nathan Rennie, Atkinson knew he had a shot at the title, but Rennie went on to win the final and along with it, kept his national title.

"I had a pretty descent run," said Atkinson. "I had to improvise in a couple of different sections, but I've been running flats lately, so it kinda makes it a little bit easier when stuff happens. Ya know - all you have to do is lean back and go for it!"

"Conditions were a bit how you going really. Dust and bumps everywhere. One little mistake towards the finish and I though it might not be enough but I knew I'd punched it up the top," said Rennie after his win.

On race day, Atkinson knew he had to go for it. Although the course lacked in steepness, it still proved to be a challenge as the lower section had large amounts of pedalling, sapping riders of their energy. But even with a run that please him, Atkinson fell just shy of the win.

Excited about his result, Atkinson is looking forward to building on his momentum as he works on his training for the 2008 World Cup season.

In the women's race, Great Britain's Tracy Moseley (Kona Factory Team) won ahead of Australia's Tracey Hannah (Raw NRG); however, Hannah claimed the national title as the first Australian finisher.

"It's always great racing her," said Hannah. "I'm really happy she came and she'll be here next week. It was a bit more competitive. It's always really great when internationals come over here."

See full coverage of all disciplines for the Australian national championships.

Fort William to see a new kind of downhill endurance event

Katy Curd (Great Britain) races downhill at the Worlds in Fort William
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

No Fuss Events launched a new kind of extreme downhill mountain bike endurance race in the United Kingdom on Thursday. Staged on a track in the Nevis Range near Fort William, Scotland, where the 2007 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships were held, racers will tackle one of the longest and most physically demanding downhill races on the international circuit on Sunday, September 7.

After a Le Mans style mass start, downhill bikes will be collected and ridden up to a starting point about three-quarters of the way down from the top. A gondola will take riders back to the top repeatedly so they ride the 2.82km track down from Aonach Mor, the ninth highest mountain in the United Kingdom, as many times as possible in six hours. Each descent will be timed with the cumulative descent times determining the winner in case of a tie with the total number of descents ridden.

"The Fort William Downhill Endurance is a new and totally unique event to the UK and it has already captured the imagination of some of the key players in the downhill community," said Frazer Coupland from No Fuss Events. "It will be a fresh, new and different event, whilst challenging enough to be completely in keeping with the gnarly hardcore scene normally associated with downhill riders.

The race will be a test not only of downhill skills, but also endurance and reliability. Participants are allowed only one bike and a list of itemised spares for the duration of the event. Repairs, feeding and rest breaks will be permitted at the end of each run as needed. Riders who do have to swap out wheels, forks, bars or frames will be given a time penalty and technical assistance can only be received within the designated tech area.

The race is part of a gruelling series of open endurance events including the Three Tens Series and Relentless 24 (cross country) and The Big Ben Nevis (triathlon). For more information, visit www.nofussevents.co.uk.

May 31: 10 Under the Ben, Fort William (cross country)
July 12: 10 at Kirroughtree, Newton Stewart (cross country)
July 19: Glen Nevis River Race, Fort William (boating)
August 23: 10 More in Moray, Fochabers (cross country)
September 7: The Fort William Downhill Endurance (downhill)
September 20: The Big Ben Nevis Triathlon, Fort William (triathlon)
September 27: Glen Hike and Bike Fort William (hiking & biking)
October 11: Relentless 24 (cross country)

TransAlp announces routes and finalizes entrants

Following a lottery in January, 550 two-person teams from more than 40 countries have been finalized for the 2008 Jeantex Bike TransAlp race from July 19 to 26. Defending champions Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm will push the pedals for another win. Their challengers will include Thomas Nicke and Silvio Wieltschnig of Team Fiat-Rotwild and Alexander Pscheidl and Christian Schneidawind of Team Texpa-Simplon.

On the women's side, Denmark's Noorgard sisters Anna-Sofie and Christin of Team Cube will take on German-French pairing Kerstin Brachtendorf/Daniele Troesch of Fiat Rotwild. Heike Hundertmark and Cube team-mate Uwe Harter are favorites in the mixed category while former Telekom road pro Udo Bölts will ride with Werner Wagner.

The race will start in Fuessen, Germany, and cover 660km over 21,640m of elevation through Austria, Switzerland, and Italy. Stops along the way include Switzerland's Scuol right before entering Italy where the route leads via Livigno, Naturns, Kaltern and Andalo towards the traditional finish town Riva del Garda.

TransAlp 2008
Stage 1: Füssen - Imstl, 80.13km
Stage 2: Imst - Ischgl, 76.4km
Stage 3: Ischgl - Scoul, 75.26km
Stage 4: Scoul - Livigno, 77.16km
Stage 5: Livigno - Naturns, 122.24km
Stage 6: Naturns - Kaltern, 92.26km
Stage 7: Kaltern - Andalo, 74.61km
Stage 8: Andalo - Riva, 62,24 km -

For more information, visit www.bike-transalp.de.

USAC awards Trail Tune-Up grants

USA Cycling (USAC) announced in a press release the six winners of US$3,500 in 2007 USAC / IMBA Trail Tune Up Grants. The award goes to those looking to jump-start trail improvement with an emphasis on trails used for racing.

Winners included the Hoosier Mountain Bike Association of Indianapolis, Indiana, for completion of a challenge park inside the capital city's limits; the Atlanta, Georgia, Chapter of the Southern Off Road Bicycle Association for creating directional signage and repairing a bridge; the Mountain Top Cycling Club of Albuquerque, New Mexico, for purchasing trail tools and hiring professional trail care crews; Onion River Sports and Bike of Middlesex, Vermont, for buying supplies for bridges and culverts; the Tri-county Mountain Bike Association of Madison, Mississippi, for renting equipment to do bench cutting; and the Bike Monkey Cycling Club of Santa Rosa, California, for purchasing tools and building a volunteer outreach program.

All winners received $500; however, the Indiana club was awarded $1,000. Winners are members of both USA Cycling and IMBA.

MMBA Mountain Kids' bikes stolen

Late last week, the Michigan Mountain Bike Association (MMBA) reported their Mountain Kids trailer was stolen from where it was being stored in a covered parking in a well-lit commercial site in Farmington Hills off Northwestern Highway.

Police filed a report and have notified agents to be on the lookout but called the chances of recovery "slim". The trailer was home to all of the Mountain Kids Program equipment, including eight 20-inch Giant bikes and six 24-inch Novara bikes , 40 helmets, tools, and a custom bike rack made for the trailer.

"This is a major loss to the MMBA," said Mountain Kids Director Jason Tink. "It has always been a very secure storage facility, and I hate that it happened while on my watch."

MMBA is working within the community to replace the trailer and its contents. On February 10, they will hold a silent auction raffle to raise money for the Mountain Kids and other programs.

MMBA asked that those who see the trailer report its whereabouts to the local authorities.

F1RST to premiere during Sea Otter Classic

Clay Porter's new movie F1RST delves into the minds of downhill racing athlete. It will make its World Premiere on April 18 in Monterey, California, during Sea Otter. Regional premieres will begin in May. Porter recently released a trailer and info on how to acquire tickets to view his movie on his website www.f1rstmovie.com.

"I'm really excited about the launch of www.f1rstmovie.com and to finally release the film's trailer," said Porter. "Since I premiered Between The Tape last April, I've been hard at work on the film's sequel and I'm stoked to finally let people get a glimpse of what's to come on April 18th."

"Even though the World Cup series ended last September I haven't put the camera down," said the dedicated Porter. "I leave for Sam Hill's house in Australia in a week in a half to wrap up his section, and then leave for South Africa at the end of February to shoot with Greg Minnaar and Steve Peat for their section. It's going to be a busy next three months for me."

Costa Rica boasts second stage race

Racers looking for multi-day events in Costa Rica other than the La Ruta de los Conquistadores have another option in the Costa Rica Trophy-Bike, a three-stage race from Arenal to Tamarindo from October 17 to 19. A variety of categories are being offered. For more information, visit www.costaricatrophy.com.

Costa Rica Trophy-Bike Race
October 17: Stage 1 - Arenal to Monte Verde, 60km
October 18: Stage 2 - Monte Verde to Rio Celeste, 89km
October 19: Stage 3 - Liberia to Tamarindo, 98km

Fort Lewis Collegiate Team to be honored by state government

Reigning US National Collegiate Mountain Bike Champion Fort Lewis College has been invited to their state's capital in Denver, Colorado, on February 5. Beginning at 8:30 am local time, a tribute to the team will be read in both the Senate and the House. The Governor or Lt. Governor will formally recognize the team.

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